At any gathering of Latin musicians and professional Salseros, it should be no surprise when the conversation quickly turns to the queen of salsa.
That's exactly what happened at a recent panel discussion on Latin music and Miami, hosted by HistoryMiami, as panelists recalled the life of Celia Cruz.
The life of the salsa star continues to be celebrated across South Florida, more than 11 years after her death.
History Miami is honoring the iconic singer with a display at its Hispanic Heritage Month exhibition titled American Sabor: Latino Artists in U.S. Popular Music.
"My father was the ambassador," said musician Tito Puente Jr., "And she was the queen, of Latin music."
Puente grew up watching Cruz perform alongside his famous father, salsa singer Tito Puente.
"In the U.S. she has made an impact on every singer and every Latin female singer," Puente said. "From Aretha Franklin to Jennifer Lopez to Cristina Aguilera, they all were influenced by Celia Cruz."
That impact was perhaps most obvious after her death, when the streets of downtown Miami flooded with mourners.
"It was 10 o’clock at night and we had more than 400 people waiting in there," said music historian Eloy Cepero.
Cepero was at the Freedom Tower when Cruz's body arrived for a large procession. He said people chose to remember the singer with more than just tears, and flooded the streets with dancing and music.
"Whenever she sang, nobody would dance, everybody wanted to see her singing," Cepero said. "She had such a large energy, that when she finished singing your body was shaking."
Celia Cruz and other Latinos are featured at "American Sabor" through Oct. 26. Tickets are $8 for adults and $5 for children.
To learn about American Sabor, visit www.americansabor.org.